Mallek Service, the gas station/garage in the vee of Jackson and Dexter roads, closed on June 30. John Mendler, who’d owned the station since 1976, died last fall, and his employees continued to run it while his estate processed. The estate’s executor has not returned phone calls about the future of the property, but the station’s four current employees have received severance agreements and were told that the new owners would not continue as a gas station.

Mallek’s current and former staff gather at the station: Dan Durand (with a photo of John Mendler), Alan Richardson, Ross Moran, Danny Hoppe, Ted Kleinert, Talan Straub, David Christman (Mendler’s best friend), and Bren Straub. The station was scheduled to close on June 30. | Photo by J. Adrian Wylie

Kasimir “Cash” Mallek and Doug Hoppe opened the station in 1941; Mendler bought the business thirty-five years later, and the building in 1989. Throughout eighty-one years of existence it operated as a full-service station, selling gas and repairing all makes of cars and trucks. It was a West Side community treasure, the embodiment of service, and known and beloved for its excellent and affordable repair work. Even people who never stopped appreciated how Mendler beautified the station every summer with flowers, hanging baskets, and plantings, and in the winters with evergreen fronds, boughs and wreaths.

Alan Richardson, who worked at the station for more than twenty years, and whose three beagles frequently greeted customers on Saturdays, now plans to make dog walking his full-time vocation. Look for his signs at local dog parks, or email him at

Ross Moran, who worked part-time at Mallek’s for more than twenty-three years, has a full-time job elsewhere. “I just did it for a little extra cash,” he said. “I just enjoyed the atmosphere, getting to know the customers, my fellow coworkers, getting to know John. He was always more than an employer to me, he was like a friend as well, someone you could talk to.” 

Danny Hoppe, Doug Hoppe’s grandson, worked there for the past twenty-two years, and says, “I’ll miss our customers the most.”

Ted Kleinert, who’d been there for six years, recently began working at K & N Automotive. “I was very fortunate to be able to work with John and Dan,” he says. “I had a very small amount of professional experience when I started there. They both mentored me along the way. I was very fortunate to have that opportunity.”

Head mechanic Dan Durand, who’d been at the station for seven years, will look for work, possibly at the VA, ferrying vets to doctors’ appointments. “That’d be something nice,” he said, “To give back a little bit.”

“I’m gonna miss this place,” he says. “I got to work with somebody who was honest and fair. We tried to keep the station running the way John did. We’ll walk out of here with our heads held high.” 

This article has been edited since it was published in the July 2022 Ann Arbor Observer. The years when John Mendler bought the business and the building have been clarified.